You’re probably here because you found yourself panicking about your thesis. Or maybe you’re here because your thesis is ever-approaching, and you fear the thought of giving an academic paper your undivided attention for an entire semester. Regardless of why you find yourself following along on a blog dissecting the intricacies of this process, I am here to tell you first—you’ll be fine.
The great thing about a thesis is it can be on virtually anything in your field of study, so there’s a lot to choose from. I personally wrote mine on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a book I’ve read cover to cover at least six or seven times. From there it is just a matter of sinking your teeth into the research and finding something to argue that can push the conversation further and provide a larger perspective on the source topic. It is the culmination of your academic evolution after all.
Writing your senior thesis is about as complicated a college assignment you will ever have over your tenure. Students are used to writing papers that have some real length to them, but thesis can feel like an endless commitment sometimes. My thesis ended up being 20 full pages when it was all said and done. Complicated does not equate to impossible however.
Some of the greatest roadblocks you may hit include procrastination, lack of research, and just general dread toward the project after a while. It felt to me as if I was building a house of cards; the first few pages were malleable and creative, but the more I expanded my ideas, the more I thought the whole paper would easily crash and burn.
Last semester I had about three quarters of my thesis finished in terms of length, but I hated my draft. I wasn’t confident in the claims I was making and I knew I could sound a lot more sophisticated with the research I’d done. So I went back to the drawing board in the most crushing way possible.
With about three weeks left before the semester ended, I basically started my paper from scratch. What came of this tough decision, however, was a draft I could claim and be proud of. The difference in clarity was like night and day. It was so much easier explaining myself now that I had done my research and understood what I was trying to argue instead of thinking about it as I went along.
By going back to a blank page, I was working against the clock, sure, but I found a strange peace of mind. I had the chance to structure an argument with no previous claims, only this time, I had all of my research ready, and the experience of my previous mistakes to guide me into a much more clear-cut essay. This process prepared me for larger projects and helped me realize that sometimes the best way to move forward is to go back to square one.
When it comes to drafting your thesis, don’t panic if you hit the wall. It’s a normal part of the process. As long as you take the draft a day at a time, rely on some friends for revision, and do the necessary research, your claims should come across as bold and brave in the face of academia. Looking back, I am really happy with how my thesis turned out, and it was all because of the risks I took to make it my own.